A number of online retailers are trying to help customers decide on the best gifts to buy for friends and loved ones with 'gift finder' tools that narrow the selection and provide gift ideas.
There are plenty of shoppers at this time of year who simply haven't a clue what to buy yet, so allowing them to search by gender, type of recipient, price range etc should be a big help. I've been trying a few to see if they are useful tools, or just a gimmick...
The gift finder tools I have seen either take the form of an additional navigational tab or drop-down, or an interactive wizard which asks users a few questions before suggesting some gifts. There are a number of examples, but I've looked at those from M&S and John Lewis.
M&S Christmas helper
The M&S gift finder is in the 'wizard' style, and asks users whether the gift is for a brother, wife, daughter etc:
The helper then asks for age range and personality:
After this, four or five suggestions appear, all of which are decent ideas. However, the first three gifts I tried to buy were out of stock, which defeats the object.
Rather than having a wizard style gift finder, John Lewis simply has a Christmas section which contains a separate set of navigation and filtering options. Users can select gifts by recipient, a list of gift ideas and more.
Users can then just narrow their selection using the filtering options on offer, which are comprehensive enough to produce a manageable set of results.
According to Matt Curry, Head of E-commerce at LoveHoney, this is the best approach to the gift finder:
It's better done through self-selecting merchandising rather than getting the user to ask themselves questions. The "find the perfect gift" thing on LoveHoney is actually just a bunch of filtering options, the same as those deployed on any category page, we just decided to stick an arrow on them.
Matt also found that creating curated gift pages based on selected criteria worked best:
We started off just having the filtering options, but I noticed the most popular second page after someone used a filtering option was Page 2 of results, rather than a product page. Bad news. So instead I put together a series of curated gift pages, based on popularity, category suitability "gifty-ness" (i.e. was it a kit or set, what was the packaging like), customer rating, number of reviews, and price variation within category.
The screenshot below shows how popular the curated versions are over the finder. According to Matt, putting these pages together almost doubled the conversion rate and increased average order values.
Since people are looking for ideas and inspiration for gifts, the curated approach makes a lot of sense.